Recently I stumbled across a quote from Pope Francis, speaking on a role of the church in our healing. I found it to be quite pertinent to the theme of the scripture readings today, and so I would like to share it with you as I begin this reflection. The Pope says:
“I see clearly, that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.”
Suffering and brokenness are something in this world, in our lives, that are inescapable and inevitable. We all must, and will, deal with it at some point, hence I believe why Pope Francis speaks about this great need for healing; that the church is like a field hospital after battle.
Unfortunately we are not perfect. As a result of the original sin of Adam and Eve we all have a tendency towards sin; to that which separates us from the love of our Creator. Fortunately for us, though, Jesus has come to bring us back to God, to guide us back to our Father. We see this in the Gospel of Mark (1.29-39) as He heals the sick, and those possessed with demons.* This is where Jesus starts, with healing. And we see how healing is a journey, an intimate journey. Why is it intimate?
Firstly, because we are called to suffer through our brokenness, facing the reality that we are not perfect, on a very personal level. Secondly, because we are led; we are not called to make this journey by ourselves. We see two examples of this in the Gospel. The first is Jesus healing Simon’s mother-in-law. Jesus lifts her up; a physical sign of guiding her and healing her through a helpful movement. He could have just spoke the words “get up”, but He goes another way about it. The second example of being led to healing is Jesus curing many who were sick with diseases and possessed with demons. In this situation the disciples physically went out and brought them to Jesus. Those in need of healing were guided by the intervention of those who cared enough to lead them to be able to experience healing.
So we see not only that Jesus invites us to experience healing, but that we can also play a vital role in inviting others to experience healing and sharing in that experience with them. It is truly a journey and, as we can see, not one that is meant to be taken alone. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 9.16-19,22-23) we hear St.Paul as he shares how he is obligated as one who has experienced freedom to be that for others, that he would be able to share in the blessings of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Sure this sounds great, but perhaps a bit ideal. You might be asking, “How can I practically do this?” Again, the Gospel sheds light on this important area. We hear about Jesus “in the morning, while it was still very dark” getting up and going to a deserted place to pray. This is after being up, probably late into the night, as the whole city had been gathered at the door of the place where he was healing. Has this ever struck you? Jesus is perfect; the Son of God. Yet over and over in the Gospels we see Him take time to be alone with His Father.. He had to get up early to make time for it. Sometimes He had to stay up late in order to make time for it, but He always did it. If He who was perfect needed prayer in order to fulfill His life’s mission what does that imply for us who are so wounded and weak, so imperfect. So it is that this needs to be our foundation in experiencing true healing. Jesus wants to be our first companion on this journey. One thing we should not lose sight of is our life’s mission, for without it we can be tempted to despair, as we see in the book of Job (7.1-4,6-7). Job was caught up in the despair of his suffering as he shares with his friends that he has lost hope, “that he will never see good again.”
It should be a great comfort to us to know that Jesus went down this road, of suffering, and went down it to the end. He wants to be our first companion, and shows us that though this path leads to the cross at Calvary it does not end there, and this is our hope, our life’s mission; Easter. For us, as Christians, suffering becomes an opportunity to share in Christ’s passion in the hope of sharing His Easter victory.
Let us take with us today the remembrance of the journey to healing that we are on, and as we come before our heavenly Father, in this celebration, let us seek a more intimate and personal encounter with Him that we may be strengthened with His love and with hope for that journey.
*In the sciptures we hear about physical and emotional healing, as well as spiritual healing. I believe, even though they can be totally separate, that they can also be intricately linked. That, for example, the person being healed would not only experience physical healing alone, but a ‘nearness’ to spiritual healing(like a heart and mind coming into focus) and vice versa; that a person healed spiritually would encounter physical newness.